Comeback Year

This year, long-gestating Tokyo Vice finally came out (though tainted by one very bad actor), we have a new Michelle Yeoh movie that people are flipping out about, Robert Eggers made the best genre flip — horror to action — and I’ve already spoken thousands of words to Kwon Do-eun’s return with Twenty-Five Twenty-One. But even without all these neat TV shows and movies already released, there’s a lot to come for cinema-goers (however you go — I’ve not been to the theater since Birds of Prey).

Honestly, I haven’t been this excited about new movies since 2015, I’d say, but the difference this time is that it’s all my favorite filmmakers? Alex Garland, David Cronenberg, Park Chan-wook? Jesus. Well, here’s what’s on the agenda. What are you looking forward to this year?

Men

Oh, gosh, I have so many bad half-formed jokes about this title swirling around in my head, but I think I’m gonna do what I never do and just not make the tweet. I don’t know anything about Men, and while I knew a lot about Ex Machina and Annihilation going into those, I loved them anyway. I don’t know, I just feel like this time I want to go in totally blank. Also, I haven’t progressed past episode one of Devs, so I need to rectify that. Because otherwise I haven’t met a Garland movie I’ve disliked, though I have yet to see 28 Days Later. The guy never misses, and while there’s no explicit hook here — no alien or robot lady — I know better than to doubt the man. He’s one of the good ones.

Crimes of the Future

Look, I’m happy whenever I see David Cronenberg pop up anywhere, which recently has been as an actor on Star Trek: Discovery. Not my most favorite show ever, but there are scenes where he’s squaring off against Michelle Yeoh, for what that’s worth. But this? A whole new movie? I’m sure some New Flesh diehard somewhere thought, “But he needs to do at least one more body horror,” and then the next diehard surely thought, “And what if he cribbed a title from the beginning of his career?” “Crimes of the Future” is one of two short films that gets discussed with any career retrospective, and which alongside “Stereo” predates his feature debut with Shivers (or The Parasite Murders or They Came From Within or whatever). This is the kind of thing that critics wait for, the chance to write about legacies.

And nothing could be Cronenbergier than this trailer, which combines his two trademarks: body horror and Viggo Mortensen. I’m pretty keen to track down the younger Cronenberg’s Possessor, because I heard that’s real good, and not to mention the last Palm D’Or winner Titane, apparently reminiscent of Crash. David Cronenberg, like Sergio Leone, Park Chan-wook, and Mamoru Oshii, was one of the filmmakers I studied at the height of “film study” in high school and college. Reading books on him and listening to his interviews and commentaries, I feel like I took away invaluable lessons, not least of which that he’s an appealing character to watch go on and tell stories. Like his horror contemporaries, your Wes Cravens and Clive Barkers, he just seems like a very chill, eloquent guy, despite the fixation on gore and sex.

Shin Ultraman

Fuck myself look at this, man. My beautiful baby is born and he’s so beautiful, my baby. I mean, it’s like some magical surgeon chemist took Shin Godzilla and swapped out Godzilla for Ultraman. What will they think of next?? Also, I didn’t realize the guy from Drive My Car was the guy from Caution, Hazardous Wife. I would’ve endeavored to see it!

Isn’t it beautiful? Brings tears to my eyes!

We Own This City

This one sprang out of nowhere, for me in the form of a YouTube ad. It gradually unfolded like a beautiful flower: HBO, Baltimore, Sgt. Landsman — “from the producers of The Wire.” Speaking of things I studied in college, most of the discussion I had with classmates at my film school wasn’t about film but rather the burgeoning Golden Age of TV, with Mad Men, Breaking Bad, True Detective, and most of all, The Wire.

This new one looks to tackle the only aspect of The Wire that hasn’t aged in its 20 years (specifically Prez’s hand in police violence), with Jon Bernthal bringing a characteristic edginess to the Vic Mackey role that Keanu couldn’t quite surface in Street Kings (“not quick enough!”). I can’t claim to be a David Simon completionist, but I thought Show Me a Hero was excellent, and We Own the City follows the same model as an adaptation and limited series. In terms of genre, it’s a strange thing to be excited for, promising uncomfortable themes and imagery, but the return of The Wire in a year with all these other things — I couldn’t leave it out.

Decision to Leave

No trailer yet for Park’s latest, which is this, per Wikipedia: “A detective falls for a mysterious widow after she becomes the prime suspect in his latest murder investigation.” I don’t even care. I didn’t even read those words. It’s Park Chan-wook. And it’s kind of a big comeback, being five years since The Handmaiden. In those five years, Kim Tae-ri skyrocketed and his buddy Bong Joon-ho became the quintessential Korean filmmaker. But it’s also a big comeback for Chinese actress Tang Wei, who I’d last seen in Lust, Caution. Apparently, she’d been banned in China for those explicit, NC-17 sex scenes, but she keeps rebounding because she’s just too awesome. I did want to do a write-up about her at some point, because she’s had such an interesting career. Anyway, I never know what to expect with Park. The man’s a mystery, but I do know he’s made two movies I often consider my number one of all time, jostling with the original Jurassic Park. And that leads us to…

Jurassic World: Dominion

Pass.

Look, I’m sure I’ll see this at some point, but I feel nothing here. I remember that the marketing for Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom coincided with a sudden decision to start going out for walks, so I saw the film’s poster in and around North Hollywood. I’d pass by and think, “Am I excited about this movie?” I told this sad tale to Donovan, and he mentioned that he can never keep track of my feelings on these new-fangled Jurassic Park movies, which is true — I loved the original Jurassic World back in the halcyon summer of ’15. So what happened?

Next time.


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